Penang is a small state. It has a small closely knitted community. It can count the existence of an active NGO community as one of its blessings. The community should be credited for bringing up several key issues in the state including the PGCC and others.
Lately, there are calls for the state government to reconsider allowing the implementation of wireless internet broadband infrastructure in the state due to health fear. The state government recently officiated the launch of a Wifi and Wimax project by a local provider. This project, according to the state government, is not exclusive.
The use of Wifi is free but it is expected to be slow because many users would probably jump on the bandwagon. However, the service of Wimax is expected to cost users RM88 per month.
As a Wifi user, I can understand the fear of health risk associated with the microwave transmitted from the signal. However, after weeks of going through relevant information on the internet I believe experts have not found conclusive evidence to pin a health related risk to the use of Wifi or Wimax.
Internet connectivity and backbone is very important to the state's socio-economic development. Granted, technically Wifi may not be able to support critical business systems which require 100% reliable and fast network. However, a free Wifi service can go a long way to assist students and others to gain access to the internet and narrow the gap of information accessibility.
At present there are many other real/substantiated health risks and 'killers' lurking around our society.
The NGOs and people of Penang should focus on cleanliness as an important health agenda. I have been back regularly to the state but I still notice old dirty habits die hard. Many still use the drain as a rubbish bin. The wet markets still stink! Our public toilets will put some of the Chinese to shame. They have cleaned up for the Olympics but we haven't.
Penang needs to usher in a new culture of cleanliness. Take Hong Kong as a good example. After SARS, many Hongkies have participated in the movement to upgrade HK's hygiene level. We should do the same to make it more bearable to locals and tourists.
Take a look at the surrounding of KOMTAR. My friend who visited Penang recently told me about the ugly, dodgy and uncomfortable feeling he had about the area which is supposed to be our town centre. What has happened?
Our beaches used to be the envy of many visitors. A number of them used to make a yearly pilgrim to Penang. Not anymore. Now, you can even commit suicide by swimming in the seas. There are hell lot of jelly fishes around. If you are not stunk by one of them, you may probably die of arsenic waste in the water.
My advice is; lets focus on cleanliness. This should be our no.1 priority.
Next, what about smoking in public places? A number of cities in Europe have banned smoking in open public areas. Not in Penang. It will not be a public area if you do not find smokers puffing away happily. Why can't we impose the same restriction on public places? You would probably agree with me that smoking is more dangerous than surfing your internet on a wireless network.
If smoking is bad for health, I am sure the carbon dioxide which emits from cars, vehicles, airconds etc. are equally bad for health. We should really do something about private car ownership in Penang. At present, it is better for you to walk back home than to wait for a bus after 10.30pm.
The public bus transport system is so unreliable that many have to resort to cars. I feel lost if I do not have a car in Penang. Hence, I am also a culprit who is helping a 'killer'(pollution) harming your health. More cars mean more fatal accidents too. This is one of the biggest killers in Malaysia.
We need NGOs to focus on this too. Yes, I know you have been doing your job. But we need to be more vocal in getting ourselves a decent public bus system.
Next, we have the real killers (robbers, rapists, murderers) on the streets. Recently, a wife of a politician was murdered. Gory. Probably many more petty crimes went unreported. A number of observers have warned of higher crime rates.
What can we do? We should work together to keep our neighbourhood and our society safe.
See? There are many real killers lurking around the state. Can we just let the Wifi issue ease off a bit and focus on the real threats?